Artists hard at work in the Hilltop Artists hot shop at Jason Lee Middle School. Photo by Scott Ramsey.
You know an event that encourages arriving an hour early to secure a ticket to be one of the first to get in may have a hard time living up to the hype. Fortunately, anyone who has been to Hilltop Artists’ Spring Glass Sale before knows this is one event where it’s good to be first in line.
Believing the hype, I joined several dozen other people in line early on May 10 to secure my ticket for the 10am opening. This approach to staged entry times allows organizers to control the number of folks in the sales room at any given time. The result is a heightened sense of exclusivity for being there early, but also a manageable number of people in a room full of expensive breakable things at any given time.
Held annually at Jason Lee Middle School, home of the Hilltop Artists hot shop, the Spring Sale provides glass art lovers a chance to purchase a variety of work produced by the student artists involved in this thriving program. The quality and creativity of the pieces is very high and patrons compete to purchase their favorites from several hundred on display, before they are snatched up by someone else with a faster hand or quicker eye.
Work ranges from handmade glass marbles and beads selling for a few dollars each, to larger, elaborate vases, vessels, plates, and decorative items priced in the hundreds of dollars. Pieces were grouped on tables based on their color, with bright splashes of every shade imaginable to be found. I quickly laid claim to several beautiful pieces including hand-blown apple-green, and tangerine-orange vases and a quirky little rose-red bird figurine, all of which made perfect Mother’s Day gifts this year.
Funds generated at the Glass Sale go to support the Hilltop Artists non-profit glass arts program which was established with the help of Dale Chihuly in 1994. Through the program, over 500 students, ages 12-20 are provided with hot shop classes and individual instruction each year. Hilltop Artists serves a diverse group of youth throughout Pierce County, and is especially effective with young people who are searching for ways to connect and belong. There is also support for those who find themselves struggling academically, socially and/or behaviorally.
BE A PART OF THE ACTION NOW
Help Hilltop Artists fund new hot shop equipment
Creating glass art requires lots of expensive equipment, like furnaces and glory holes. Right now, Hilltop Artists’ largest glory hole, a critical piece of equipment to glass blowing, is just squeaking by and will need to be replaced sooner than expected. A new glory hole will be safer for students, more energy-efficient, and allow teaching staff to focus all of their time on the students, rather than spending hours fixing broken equipment.
The campaign has a goal of raising $30,000 to cover the equipment, installation and maintenance. They have currently raised $20,015. Consider donating to the campaign and you can choose from a number of perks including magnets, t-shirts, glass floats, earrings, and glass bowls and vases.
More information: Find out more and contribute any amount here.
The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support Hilltop Artists through the Arts Anchor Fund.
This review was written by Scott Ramsey, a Tacoma Arts Commission member since 2011. A fourth generation Tacoman, Scott lives and works locally and has been diligently defending the Arts for decades. His dry sense of humor is often misconstrued as bitterness and sarcasm, but he insists he’s “just kidding”.